Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the meeting of the National Combat Board with Coronavirus (Covid-19) on November 21, 2020 in Tehran, Iran.
Iranian Presidency Flyer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday accused Israel of killing the country’s best nuclear scientist, who the West believes is the architect of Tehran’s secret military nuclear program.
Iranian clergy and military have threatened revenge for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s murder on Friday, which could further exacerbate tensions in the Middle East and beyond.
“Our people are smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionist regime (Israel) … Iran will certainly respond to the ordeal of our scientist at the right time,” Rouhani said in a television cabinet meeting.
“Once again the evil hands of Global Arrogance and the Zionist (Israeli) mercenaries have been stained with the blood of an Iranian son,” Rouhani said in a statement earlier on Saturday, adding that Fakhrizadeh’s death will not slow down Iran’s nuclear work.
Israel has refused to comment on the murder.
The death of Fakhrizadeh could spark a confrontation between Iran and its enemies in the final weeks of Donald Trump’s US presidency. It could also complicate efforts by President-elect Joe Biden to reinvigorate the detente from Barack Obama’s presidency after taking office in January.
The White House, Pentagon, State Department and the CIA have refused to comment, as has Biden’s transition team.
At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in an assassination program aimed at sabotaging the nuclear energy program. Iran has always refused to prosecute nuclear weapons.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that after the explosion of a car loaded with explosives near Fakhrizadeh’s vehicle around 2:30 p.m. Local time, one of the assassins started spraying bullets on his car.
It was said that one of Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards was shot four times and that Fakhrizadeh was helicoptered to a hospital in Absard town, Damavand county, some 70 km east of Tehran. He died in the hospital.
A witness told state television that there were repeated shots and that Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards clashed with the assassins.